Tough Love

I call this problem the “Postal/NAPS Paradox.” The vast majority of NAPS members and officers have dealt with it since the beginning of our association more than a century ago. I’m talking about dealing with the poor-performing supervisor in the workplace without compromising your integrity.

You are a station manager and the local branch president. You know the reality of the situation: Your supervisor constantly fails to perform his duties and, even worse, lies to you. Work that you have assumed was completed, e.g., street supervision, route inspection and driver observations, simply wasn’t done. Even worse, you have advised your area manager, “Don’t worry, I took care of it!”

This starts a chain of events that is so predictable it is pathetic. The station manager is called on the carpet by either or both the area manager and postmaster and given the famous “Shape up or ship out” talk (remember, I was in the U.S. Navy). It’s easy to blame your subordinate and throw him or her under the bus. But here is the paradox: The station manager/NAPS president now must write up the supervisor to get off the hook.

What is one to do? Write up the person you are going to represent?

The key is to prevent this situation from ever happening. And, yes, that’s easier said than done! Just as with any employee, communication remains the key. Is there a reason for the poor performance? Personal problems impacting the job? Get EAP involved. Lack of knowledge? Get PEDC involved.

Most people want to excel in their positions; no one starts off the day with the thought of doing a bad job. We need to learn the reason why something is happening. An oil change is always cheaper than a complete engine replacement.

The old days, which were only two or three years ago, allowed you to move the weak employee around and, eventually, to an easy station where he or she could hide. Well, there are no easy stations/tours for anyone to get lost in anymore. The underachiever will drain you, the operation and the branch, eventually taking down other people in the unit.

Do everything you can, both as a manager and a NAPS officer, to help the supervisor before a situation reaches the point of discipline. You cannot serve two masters!

Tommy Roma – [email protected]

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